Battleship SMS Rheinland

The battleship SMS Rheinland belonged to the Nassau class and represented the beginning of the battleships of the imperial navy. Despite the technical advances already known in the design, the ship class lagged behind its potential.


Launching and design:

The construction of the Nassau class is based on the experience of the predecessor ships of the Deutschland class. At the beginning of the 20th century, the naval command of the largest naval forces engaged more and more in the construction of battleships. In the German Empire, the plans for such a ship class began around 1904, after which the ships of the Nassau class were developed. A little earlier, the HMS Dreadnought launched in the UK, which was the first battleship in the world.

Great progress was made, especially in the field of fire control, since the planning already assumed that future naval battles would take place at a greater distance and accordingly the targeting at a great distance was decisive. In addition, the interaction of the weapons of a ship should be improved.

Furthermore, measures have been taken in the field of protection. Thus, the building material wood for the interior decoration was replaced mainly by metal and metal to give fire hardly any possibilities for propagation.

Due to the ever-increasing explosive power of torpedoes, a new type of construction was introduced in the Nassau class to clearly absorb the energy of a detonation. The outer wall was kept relatively thin, behind it a several meters long empty passage was created which was completed with another wall. Behind them, in turn, were coal and oil storage.

During the planning of the ships of the Nassau class, it was already possible to set up the main guns in one line and firing on top of each other. However, since no turbine systems could be built for ships in Germany, the ships of the Nassau class still had to be equipped with piston steam engines, which consumed a corresponding space inside the ship and thus the main guns were installed in hexagonal layout.

The launching of the SMS Rheinland took place on September 26, 1908, the commissioning on April 30, 1910.


Battleship SMS Rheinland

Battleship SMS Rheinland


Battleship SMS Rheinland

Battleship SMS Rheinland




Use in the war:

The first major deployment of SMS Rheinland in the First World War was the participation in the Riga Bay advance from 6 to 20 August 1915, in order to dominate the Gulf of Riga and to support the army in the conquest of Riga.

In the period from March 5 to 6, 1916, an attempt was made in the Hoofden, between the Netherlands and Great Britain, which, however, had no success. On April 24, 1916, the Rheinland accompanied the Great Cruiser, which fired at the British coastal cities of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

On the night of 31 May to 1 June 1916, the Rheinland was also involved in the Battle of the Skagerrak. By 2 hits of the British ships the ship had 10 dead and 20 wounded after the battle to report.

The last operation of the Rheinland was the participation in the Finland intervention from 22 February to 11 April 1918. The ship ran on April 11 on the way to Reval in the early morning on rocks on, so that the ship with about 2 / 3 lay on the rock and could no longer free itself. In the following weeks, the flooded rooms were bounded and sealed with concrete and leak pads, all coal, ammunition, inventory and equipment of the crew brought from the ship and finally the armor plates, guns and gun turrets removed. With a total of 10 float boxes finally succeeded on 8 July 1918 to liberate the ship and bring to Kiel.





After the ship was brought to the dock in Kiel, the naval leadership realized that the damage was significantly greater than initially assumed. Due to the strained economic and military situation was waived a thorough repair and the SMS Rheinland on 4 October 1918 decommissioned and used as a housing ship.

After the surrender, the Rheinland was not one of the ships that had to be interned in Scapa Flow. It was not until the conclusion of the Versailles Treaty that the ship had to be delivered to the United Kingdom as a reparation service. Since the British could not do anything with the damaged and unarmed ship, they sold it to a Dutch company that had it scrapped in the Netherlands from the middle of 1920.




Ship data:


SMS Rheinland


German Empire

Ship Type:  





AG Vulcan, Szczecin


36.920.000 Mark


September 26th, 1908


April 30th, 1910


Scrapped in the Netherlands from the middle of 1920


146,1 meters


26,9 meters


Max. 8,76 meters


Max. 20.535 Tons


1008 Men




12 marine cauldrons
(Coal / oil burning)
3 standing 3-cylinder Triple expansion
steam engines


27.498 PSi

Maximum speed:  

20,0 kn


12 × 28 cm rapid-fire gun L / 45 in 6 twin towers

12 × 15 cm rapid-fire gun L / 45 in casemates

14 × 8,8 cm rapid-fire gun L / 45 (sea target until 1916)

2 × 8,8 cm L / 45 (Anti-aircraft guns since 1915)

6 × torpedo tube 45 cm



Belt: 80-300 mm
Side armor: 100-170 mm
Deck: 55-80 mm
Casemates: 160 mm
Towers: 90-280 mm
Control rooms: 50-400 mm






You can find the right literature here:


German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard)

German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard) Paperback – February 23, 2010

Supported by official documents, personal accounts, official drawings and specially commissioned artwork, this volume is an enlightening history of the Deutschland to Osfriesland classes. Detailing the last of the pre-dreadnaught battleship classes, this book goes on to explain the revolutionary developments that took place within the German Imperial Navy as they readied themselves for war. This included creating vessels with vast increases in size and armament. This account of design and technology is supplemented by individual ship histories detailing combat experience complete with first-hand accounts. The specially commissioned artwork also brings this history to life with recreations of the battleship Pommern fighting at Jutland and ships of the Osfriesland class destroying HMS Black Prince in a dramatic night-time engagement.

Click here!



The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces

The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces Hardcover – December 28, 2016

The Imperial German Navy of WWI is a series of books (Warships, Campaigns, & Uniforms) that provide a broad view of the Kaiser's naval forces through the extensive use of photographs. Every effort has been made to cover all significant areas during the war period. In addition to the primary use of photographs, technical information is provided for each warship along with its corresponding service history; with a special emphasis being placed on those warships that participated in the Battle of Skagerrak (Jutland). Countless sources have been used to establish individual case studies for each warship; multiple photos of each warship are provided. The entire series itself is unprecedented in its coverage of the Kaiser's navy.

Click here!



German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations Hardcover – November 4, 2014

This is the most comprehensive, English-language study of the German Imperial Navy's battlecruisers that served in the First World War. Known as Panzerkreuzer, literally "armored cruiser," the eight ships of the class were to be involved in several early North Sea skirmishes before the great pitched battle of Jutland where they inflicted devastating damage on the Royal Navy's battlecruiser fleet. This book details their design and construction, and traces the full service history of each ship, recounting their actions, drawing largely from first-hand German sources and official documents, many previously unpublished in English.

Click here!



The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918

The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918 Hardcover – March 15, 2016

The battleships of the Third Reich have been written about exhaustively, but there is little in English devoted to their Second Reich predecessors. This new book fills an important gap in the literature of the period by covering these German capital ships in detail and studying the full span of battleship development during this period. The book is arranged as a chronological narrative, with technical details, construction schedules, and ultimate fates tabulated throughout, thus avoiding the sometimes disjointed structure that can result from a class-by-class approach. Heavily illustrated with line drawings and photographs, many from German sources, the book offers readers a fresh visual look at these ships. A key objective of the book is to make available a full synthesis of the published fruits of archival research by German writers found in the pre-World War II books of Koop & Schmolke, Großmer's on the construction program of the dreadnaught era, Forstmeier & Breyer on World War I projects, and Schenk & Nottelmann's papers in Warship International. As well as providing data not available in English-language books, these sources correct significant errors in standard English sources.

Click here!






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